Buy Old Home

Tips for Purchasing an Older Home

Buying an older home is entirely different than purchasing a newer home. The rewards of a more former home are numerous, but some extraordinary care should be taken. For example, few new homes have the atmosphere of warmth and productive ties to history that older homes offer. However, owning a more former home can require extra work and money to make it safe and keep it in excellent condition.

While it is true that with an older house it is possible that you will need to forego some of the more modern home components. However, many homes in our older neighborhoods have had significant upgrades and include gourmet kitchens, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and spa-like bathrooms. Therefore, as you look, don’t assume that you will need to sacrifice all the modern amenities that new homes offer.

We hope you find the perfect house for you and your family. The tips below will help you make the best decision for your individual goals:

1. Get a home inspection before you make an offer
2. Ask for improvements & repairs
3. Do some research about the home and its location
4. Ask the seller to provide the history they know about the house
1. Get a home inspection before you make an offer

It’s agreed that all home purchases involve emotion at some point, but the buyer of a new home or one that is in excellent condition can also justify the purchase with the logic that the major components are up to date or perhaps still under warranty.

That may not be the case with an older home. So, one of the most important and tangible issues you’ll need to deal with is the condition of the house which includes the age of its electrical and mechanical systems.

An inspection, which usually costs from $250 to $400 depending on the size and unique features of a home, will find severe and not-so-serious defects with a house. Once owners know these problems, they can either address them before allowing the home to be shown or reduce the asking price accordingly.

An inspector who has experience inspecting older homes is recommended. They should look for evidence of lead-based paint and radon gas as well as determine the condition of the electrical system, plumbing, roof, foundation, windows, heating/cooling system, etc.

Although home inspections for newer homes are frequent after the property goes into contract, in the case of an older home, we recommend getting an inspection before an offer is made to avoid significant price renegotiations later.

2. Ask for improvements and repairs

In today’s market, it not at all uncommon for buyers to expect a seller to upgrade an older home’s electrical systems and plumbing as well as replace an old roof, outdated furnace, and inefficient air-conditioning systems. Don’t be afraid to ask for these items to be done before the purchase or to negotiate a lower purchase price.

Asking for a home warranty that covers repairs for a year or more after the sale might be reassuring, but make sure you read the fine print. Many warranties do not include any damage that occurred before the purchase of the home (which significantly reduces their benefit for older home buyers).

3. Do some research about the home and its location

Many older communities have commissions or architectural review committees that regulate what improvements can be made and how. Homeowners in Victorian Village, German Village, and Italian Village, for example, will need to get approval to change the exterior paint color or to replace windows or roofs. Get a written copy of the most recent regulations before making your offer.

Although a home may have been built in a residential area at the turn of the century, things could have changed in the last hundred years, and that home might be sitting on a lot that is now zoned commercial. Find out.

Double check the ‘legal use’ as recorded with both the county and city. It is not about a home to be listed with the county auditor as a 2- or 4-family but still registered with the town as a single-family residence. If so, have the seller get the legal documents changed to avoid a potential snag in the closing process.

Become aware with the federal, state, and local regulations related to historic preservation. Find out if any grants for the restoration of older homes are available.

4. Seller will deliver the information they know about home

Having a history is not essential, but it is exciting, may be useful if you ever remodel, and is easier to get from the seller before you make the purchase.

Check with Government offices, the local library, and the historical society. Use city directories that go by street names or addresses to find out who lived in the house and from what dates. Look up local “TAP” records to see when the house was connected to the local water system for running water.

Details such as when the porch was added, or when the outhouse was torn down and replaced with indoor plumbing, will make you feel more a part of the home’s history.

If you search on the internet, you’ll find hundreds of articles and research sites geared toward helping owners research the history of their home. You’ll also find companies that will provide accounts of houses for as little as a reported fee to as much as $400 for a leather bound copy.

If you have more questions, please contact us. We will be happy to serve you!